Last week, Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism hosted a panel discussion called “The Future of the NCAA and Its Membership.” Throughout the intriguing and at times difficult discussion of the role of the NCAA in intercollegiate sports, specifically the reaction to the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, individuals voiced opinions and offered predictions about the future of the NCAA. The role of the NCAA has been a significant topic of interest, especially at Penn State, but also among others involved in university sports all over the country. There was a clear consensus among the panelists that the way the NCAA handled the Penn State scandal was flawed and many saw a much different future for its role in college athletics.
One problem the NCAA now faces centers around the methods of enforcement since it appears Mark Emmert alone made the determination on the Penn State sanctions. Now people are thinking, is this judicial process really fair? How can one individual decide the fate of an entire university community? The public’s trust in the NCAA is fading and it is starting at the universities affected by their actions. NCAA procedures are debated by member universities so if they are not adhered to, schools may decide to leave the organization.
Former NCAA president Gene Corrigan and past Penn State faculty athletics representative Scott Kretchmar agreed with previous president Cedric Dempsey’s assertion that the future of the NCAA could possibly include schools dropping their membership.
As Dempsey said, “This is the first case where it was based on principle. All other NCAA cases have been based on bylaws.” The public, along with those involved in intercollegiate sports, saw this as a hasty decision and one that many argue isn’t even under their authority. Kretchmar argued that although child sexual abuse is a horrific crime that has to be addressed by society, it does not fall within the confines of what the NCAA regulates.
Many times throughout the evening, panelists made comparisons to the NCAA’s handling of the University of North Carolina case. In a situation where academic fraud appears to have taken place, it seems incredible that the school will not be punished, yet the NCAA claims no rules were broken. Players appear to be getting away with taking no-show classes. Compare that to the present Penn State players who had absolutely nothing to do with the criminal acts of Sandusky, but they were dealt a severe punishment. Something doesn’t seem right.
As a Penn State student, it was a relief to hear the panelists voice similar concerns and know that we aren’t the only ones questioning the acts of the NCAA. After an hour and a half of discussion, the panel concluded and the theater emptied out as people thought about what they had just heard. It is a critical time for college sports; scandals seem to be occurring more often and a player’s entertainment dollar value seems to be overshadowing his athletic and academic capabilities. Is this just a result of changing times or do we have to take a deeper look into the organization in charge of these players and their teams? Only time will tell.